Hong Kongers in Diaspora

Chung Ming Ko


The iron fist of the Chinese Communist Party has prompted a wave of Hong Kongers to flee the city. After the Hong Kong Protest 2019, political suppression shows no sign of decline. Police brutality, indiscriminate arrest and prosecution have eroded Hong Kongers’ confidence in the authority. According to the opinion poll conducted by Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute in December 2021, 50% of the interviewee expressed distrust in the Hong Kong Government.

On 30 June 2020, Bejing imposed the draconian National Security Law on the city, which fundamentally altered life for Hong Kongers. It adopts universal definitions for crimes such as subversion, secession, and collusion with foreign powers. Some protestors leave to escape from imprisonment. Some others leave because they are pessimistic about Hong Kong’s future. They are similar to their predecessors who left China in 1949 when the Communists came to power.

Taiwan is one of the choices. According to Taiwan’s official figures, 12389 and 11299 Hong Kongers were granted residency in 2022 and 2021, respectively. The interviewees in this story are either staying in Taiwan, or passer-bys to Western countries. The most disheartening is the deterioration of their native land seems to be no end in sight. In 2021, more than 50 civil society organizations have been shut down, including political parties, labor unions, and media outlets. People staying are either self-censored or punished.

The interviewees in this story re-examine their self-identity while facing alienation in a strange environment. What are the substances they value? Hong Kongers enjoy freedom, stand on their dignity and are used to express themselves. When Thomas Mann, the Nobel Prize Winner for literature was expelled from Nazi Germany, he said, “German Culture is where I am,” while acknowledging America was his new home. Hong Kongers are struggling to turn the bitter experience of exile into synergy in their new life.

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  • Sang Pu (45)
    Sang Pu was a legal advisor for a multi-national company that has worked in mainland China for a decade. He was also a commentator in various news outlets, including D100 and Apple Daily. Sang Pu fleed Hong Kong in 2020 before his counterpart, DJ Giggs was arrested in the name of money laundry and sedition. Sang Pu initiated the "Taiwan Hong Kong Association" to connect Hong Kongers' community in Taiwan.

  • S (25)
    S(alias) was a former member of a political group disbanded in 2020 after being raided and searched by the police numerous times. She organized peripheral support for imprisoned party members, including her boyfriend. S fleed Hong Kong in 2021 when rumor has it that the police would target her group again. Idling in Taiwan, she is overwhelmed by powerlessness. She hesitates to go back to Hong Kong despite taking the risk of being arrested.

  • T (25)
    T (alias) was a former member of a political group disbanded in 2020 after being raided and searched by the police numerous times. After staying in Taiwan for months, he has now fled to England and participated in sustaining Hong Kong culture.

  • I (22)
    I (alias) was a former member of a political group disbanded in 2020 after being raided and searched by the police numerous times. After organizing a referendum of students' strike against the National Security Law in June 2020, he has been named and targeted by Beijing. He is currently seeking political asylum in Taiwan.

  • Tiger (22)
    Tiger was one of the protestors who broke into the Legislative Council on 1st July 2019. Worrying that he might be sentenced to 10-year imprisonment, he soon fleed Hong Kong. Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PDSD), Tiger can only find some relief through fishing. He studied Chemistry in Hong Kong and found the knowledge quite pragmatic in making Molotov cocktails. He changed his major to Political Sciences in Taiwan to gear up himself and hope to return to Hong Kong to continue the aborted revolution someday.

  • Dou (18)
    Dou is an actor in the short film "Night is Young," which documented a taxi driver's working night during the Hong Kong Protest 2019. This experience evoked Dou's interest in art and creation. She is now studying graphic design at Fu Jen Catholic University.
    Dou's father is a pro-government supporter. During the Hong Kong Protest 2019, he held a baton, wandering on the street, alleged to "punish the riots." He was eventually beaten up by a crowd who had different views. Dou refrained from going home after this incident.

  • Lee Nim-Chung (18)
    Chung is the director of "Mr. Tse", the winner of the 26th IFVA Festival, Youth Category. He witnessed the "8.31 MTR attack" in 2019, and assimilated the unrest in his work. In October 2021, Hong Kong's legislature passed a new film censorship law to safeguard national security. Without freedom of expression, the film industry in Hong Kong is executed. Chung majors in film studies at Taipei National University of the Arts, hoping to have a career in a democratic environment.

  • Fiona (4X)
    Fiona first got the idea of leaving Hong Kong when she noticed that business tycoon Li Ka-Shing was moving his assets overseas. She migrated to Taiwan in 2015 with her family and started a Hong Kong-style cafe. Before the pandemic, she frequently returned to Hong Kong and joined the rally nearly every weekend in 2019. Her cafe offers homesick therapy to Hong Kong exiles, such as street food and local vibe. After her devoice, she closed down the restaurant and moved to England for a fresh start.

  • Wu Gin(23)
    On May 6, 2021, the winners of the 25th Human Rights Press Awards were announced. Wu got a "merit" in the "Tertiary Student Writing" category for his work on the 831 incident in Prince Edward station, where the police attacked the passers-by indiscriminately. He declared that he had fled to Taiwan on the same day because Hong Kongers were no longer entitled to human rights.

  • M (20)

    M (alias) was charged with "possession of offensive weapons" during the Hong Kong Protest 2019, thought the weapons found in her bag were plastic cable ties and a Swiss Army Knife. She had been detained for several months before trial. As the detainment had already exceeded the sentence, she was released immediately after the verdict. She's now a nursing student in Taiwan. There is no way home as she can hardly get a nursing license in Hong Kong with a criminal record.